Face to Face with God

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Synopsis of Face to Face with God

Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:

Luke 11:1-13    Once when Jesus had been out praying, one of his disciples came to him as he finished and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. 3 Give us our food day by day.\ 4 And forgive us our sins – just as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.” 5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this illustration: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You would say to him, 6 ‘ A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 He would call out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and we are all in bed. I can’t help you this time.’ 8 But I tell you this – though he won’t do it as a friend, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you what you want so his reputation won’t be damaged. 9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. 11 “You fathers – if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 3 If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Notice that when asked how to pray Christ began…. “Father, may your name be honored. He began with the word… Father.

This reminds me of a story I read a few years ago, Rabbi Wayne Dosick was at the airport when he witnessed an unusual scene. A police officer approached a mother and her small daughter. Someone had filed a missing-persons report on a little girl of the same age and appearance as the little girl in the airport. The officer was asking the mother to prove that the child was actually hers.

First, the officer tried questioning the toddler, a technique that proved to be futile. He asked the name of her father. She replied, “Daddy.” He asked where she lived, “At home.” So the officer then asked the mother to produce some form of identification that would prove that she was really the child’s mother. After some time, the police officer was satisfied and left.  But this encounter disturbed Rabbi Dosick. He began to think, “How would I prove that my child is really my child?”

And then Rabbi Dosick decided that he would ask his boys to recite their prayers. Once the officer heard his sons’ prayers, he would know that these boys belonged to a father who loved them and raised them to be men of God.  That’s good, isn’t it? Teach your children to pray so they know they’re loved and that they are children of God.

Some of my favorite stories are about children and prayer. Such as the little girl who prayed “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.” That’s not bad.  Or the little girl who was overheard praying, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some E-mail.”  Or the young boy who knelt down beside his bed every night to say his prayers. One night, obviously bored with the same old prayer, this little guy prayed, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake . . . can I have breakfast with you in the morning?”

Try to improve on that prayer!      Let’s start with “Father.”    Jesus changed religion forever with one simple word: Daddy.

Years ago comedy writer Robert Orben made what he considered a little joke. He said, “I don’t believe in all this popularizing of religion. Somehow I can’t ever see myself saying, “˜Our Dad who art in Heaven.'”Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.   As David Buttrick expresses it, “The Lord’s Prayer with it’s “˜Abba!,’ turns all our formal, strained praying into glad amusement, for right in the middle of our phrases is that impudent word “˜Daddy!'”

God is Daddy! No longer would religion be an exercise in attempting to appease an angry god. From now on it would be an exercise in living gratefully and joyously in the knowledge that the one who created us and sustains us is a loving parent whose will is always what is best for us.

For many people religious faith is an attempt to buy God off. That has always been true and is still true today. There is someone in this room who kneels daily to pray to God, not because you love God, but because you are afraid that if one day you forget to pray, God will in some way punish you. The picture of God in your head is all messed up–even though you may not admit it, even to yourself. In your mind God is really a petty being of limited love, limited patience who will, given the proper excuse, strike down the unsuspecting. I hope I don’t have to tell you that this is not the faith of Jesus. Jesus prayed out of a heart of gratitude and love.
It’s like a story that Cheryl Donaldson tells about her grandfather in her book Finding God Between a Rock and a Hard Place. She said her grandad started every morning on his knees  , “Father, we thank Thee that we belong to Thee . . .”
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